Major League Baseball
Preview
Kansas City at Seattle
When: 4:10 PM ET, Sunday, May 1, 2016
Where: Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington

Two teams trending in different directions meet Sunday as the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners close out a three-game series at Safeco Field. The Royals have lost five in a row for the first time since May 2014 while Seattle has won eight of its last 10 to move a half-game back of Texas in the American League West.

Right fielder Seth Smith has homered in back-to-games for Seattle, whose pitchers enter the series finale riding a streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings. “Our club is playing well,” manager Scott Servais told reporters. “They believe in each other. I think we’re gelling, the personalities. It’s almost contagious the way we’re going about our at-bats. I feel like we’re going to win every night.” The Royals are mired in 0-for-23 slump with runners in scoring position and need more production from leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar, who has four hits in his last 35 at-bats. Escobar can share the blame with several starters, including left fielder Alex Gordon (.208) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who will be happy to turn the calendar after batting .220 with two extra-base hits in April.

TV: 4:10 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, ROOT (Seattle)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Ian Kennedy (2-2, 2.77 ERA) vs. Mariners RH Taijuan Walker (2-0, 1.44)

Kennedy carried a 1.35 ERA into Monday’s start against the Angels but took the loss after yielding five runs on seven hits with four walks over six innings. The 31-year-old has been a welcome addition to the Kansas City rotation after spending the previous six seasons in the National League with Arizona and San Diego. Nori Aoki is 6-for-13 and Smith is 7-for-24 with a home run against Kennedy, who is 0-2 with a 5.59 ERA in two career starts against Seattle.

Walker continued to impress Monday against Houston with seven innings of one-run ball while striking out a career-high-tying 11 batters on 118 pitches. “We’ve really seen that he has the ability to turn the dial up,” Servais told reporters. “Later in games there’s plenty in the tank. The adrenaline gets flowing, he gets a little emotional and he gets after it.” The 25-year-old owns a 25-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first four starts covering 25 innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Seattle (13-10) is three games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2014 season.

2. Kansas City 1B Eric Hosmer was 0-for-4 in Saturday’s loss, snapping his career-best 18-game hitting streak.

3. The Mariners have homered in nine straight games.

PREDICTION: Mariners 7, Royals 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Kansas City 12-11 L5 8-3 4-8 2-1 5-1 4-8 1-1
Seattle 13-10 W2 5-6 8-4 2-1 4-1 7-8 0-0
Last Meeting
Kansas City Seattle
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
4/30/16 KC 0 SEA 6 .161 0 .381 .250 2 .912
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Kansas City L. Cain .375 3 .750
Seattle S. Smith .429 3 1.841
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Kansas City M. Almonte 0 0 0
Seattle S. Smith 2 2 2
Pitching ERA Avg K
Kansas City 3.94 .180 11
Seattle 0.00 .154 10
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Kansas City E. Hosmer .326 29 .874
Seattle K. Marte .278 22 .626
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Kansas City M. Moustakas 7 11 11
Seattle R. Cano 8 12 24
Pitching ERA Avg K
Kansas City 3.56 .252 187
Seattle 3.04 .227 196